West Chicago Native Trains to be a U.S. Navy Future Warfighter
By Rick Burke
Seaman Recruit Mariana Rodriguez Gonzalez, a native of West Chicago, Illinois, is a student at NETC, learning the necessary skills needed to be a culinary specialist.
A culinary specialist prepares high-quality nutritious meals to improve sailors’ morale so they can perform their duties on a daily basis.
Students attend advanced technical schools after “boot camp.” They are taught the basic technical knowledge and skills required to be successful in their new careers.
Gonzalez, a 2013 graduate of West Community High School, credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in West Chicago.
“I learned that getting out of my comfort zone from my hometown was needed to achieve better and greater things in life,” Gonzalez said.
NETC educates and trains those who serve, providing the tools and opportunities which enable life-long learning, professional and personal growth and development, ensuring fleet readiness and mission accomplishment.
NETC is made up of six commands that provide a continuum of professional education and training in support of Surface Navy requirements that prepare enlisted sailors and officers to serve at sea, providing apprentice and specialized skills training to 7,500 sailors a year.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
Gonzalez plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Gonzalez, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Gonzalez is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“I have a cousin in the Mexican Army who serves as an infantryman,” Gonzalez said. “It makes me proud to serve in the military as he is doing.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Gonzalez and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means having the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Gonzalez said. “I was able to finish school and set an example for my siblings. As the youngest, I have a sense of pride being the first to serve in the U.S. military and provide for my mother financially.”
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